Gender and Language, Vol 7, No 3 (2013)

Normal straight gays: Lexical collocations and ideologies of masculinity in personal ads of Serbian gay teenagers

Ksenija Bogetić
Issued Date: 8 Oct 2013


This paper is aimed at contributing to the sociolinguistic study of gender and sexuality by investigating collocation patterns in a corpus of Serbian gay teenagers’ online personal ads. Lexical collocations of words denoting masculinity and non-masculinity are found to index the dominant values among the ad writers, revealing strong associations of masculinity with positive characteristics, and effeminacy with a range of negative properties. It is argued that in such subtle but salient ways the ideological construct of hegemonic masculinity is perpetuated by these teenagers, while the cultural stigma associated with homosexuality is discursively shifted only to non-masculine gay men. A process here termed recursive marginalization is used to account for these patterns. The article also aims to make a methodological point by demonstrating that corpus-based collocation analysis offers a productive means for understanding ideology, as lexical co-occurrence may shed new light on complex webs of identities, discourses and social representations in a community.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/genl.v7i3.333


Anmeghichean, M. and Salo, A. (2007) EU support for LGBT people in neighbouring countries: Is it (good) enough? In I. Dubel and A. Hielkema (eds) Urgency Required 273–280. Netherlands: Hivos.
Baker, P. (2002) Polari: The Lost Language of Gay Men. London: Routledge. http://dx.
Baker, P. (2003) No effeminates please: A corpus-based analysis of masculinity via personal adverts in Gay News/Times 1973–2000. In B. Benwell (ed.) Masculinity and Men’s Lifestyle Magazines 243–261. Blackwell.
Baker, P. (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.
Baker, P., Costas G., Khosravinik,M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T. and Wodak R. (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse and Society 19(3): 273–306.
Baker, P. (2010) Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Boellstorff, T. (2004) Gay language in Indonesia. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 14: 248–268.
Bondi, M. (2007) Key-words and emotions: A case study of the Bloody Sunday Enquiry. In N. Fairclough, G. Cortese and P. Ardizzone (eds) Discourse and Contemporary Social Change 407–32. Bern: Peter Lang.
Brown, G. and Yule, G. (1983) Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bruthiaux, P. (1994) Me Tarzan, You Jane: Linguistic simplification in personal ads register. In D. Biber and E. Finegan (eds) Sociolinguistic Perspective on Register 136–154. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bucholtz, M. (2006) Word up: Social meanings of slang in California youth culture. In J. Goodman and L. Monaghan (eds) A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication 243–267. Oxford: Blackwell.
Bucholtz, M. and Hall, K. (2004) Theorizing identity in language and sexuality research. Language in Society 33: 501–547.
Cameron, D. (1992) Feminism and Linguistic Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Cameron, D. (1997) Performing gender identity: Young men’s talk and the construction of heterosexual masculinity. In S. Johnson and U. Meinhof (eds) Language and Masculinity. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cameron, D. (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge University Press. http://dx.
Cameron, D. (2005) Language, gender, and sexuality: Current issues and new directions. Applied Linguistics 26(4): 482–502.
Cameron, D. and Kulick, D. (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coates, J. (2003) Men Talk: Stories in the Making of Masculinities. Oxford: Blackwell.
Connell, R. (1995) Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Connell, R. and Messerschmidt, J. (2005) Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender & Society 19(6): 829–859.
del-Teso-Craviotto, M. (2008) Gender and sexual identity authentication in language use: The case of chat rooms. Discourse Studies 10: 251–270.
Eckert, P. (2002) Demystifying sexuality and desire. In K. Campbell-Kibler, R. Podesva, S. Roberts and A. Wong (eds) Language and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice 99–110. Stanford: CSLI.
Firth, J. R. (1957) A synopsis of linguistic theory 1930–1955. Studies in Linguistic Analysis, Special Volume, Philological Society, 1–32.
Foucault, M. (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Gaudio, R. (1997) Not talking straight in Hausa. In A. Livia and K. Hall (eds) Queerly Phrased 416–29. New York: Oxford University Press.
Groom, C. and Pennebaker, J. (2005) The language of love: Sex, sexual orientation, and language use in online personal advertisements. Sex Roles 52(7/8): 447–461.
Gudelunas, D. (2005) Online personal ads: Community and sex, virtually. Journal of Homosexuality 49: 1–33.
Harris, A. (2006) Revisiting anaphoric islands. Language 82 (1): 114–130.
Hatala, M. N., and Prehodka, J. (1996) Content analysis of gay male and lesbian personal advertisements. Psychological Reports 78: 371–374.
Hayes, J. (1981) Gayspeak. In J. Chesebro (ed.), Gayspeak: Gay male and lesbian communication 45–57. New York: Pilgrim.
Hunston, S. (2002) Corpora in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Irvine, J, and Gal, S. (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In P. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities and Identities 35–84. Sante Fe: School of American Research Press.
Jones, R. (2005) ‘You show me yours, I’ll show you mine’: The negotiation of shifts from textual to visual modes in computer-mediated interaction among gay men. Visual Communication 4/69: 69–92.
Jones, R. (2008) The role of text in televideo cybersex. Text & Talk 28(4): 453–473.
Keith, H. and Shalom, C. (1997) Language and Desire: Encoding Sex, Romance and Intimacy. London: Routledge.
Kiesling, S. (2002) Playing the straight man: Displaying and maintaining male heterosexuality in discourse. In K. Campbell-Kibler, R. Podesva, S. Roberts, and A. Wong (eds) Language and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice 249–266. Stanford: CSLI.
Kiesling, S. F. (2004). Dude. American Speech 79(3): 281–305.
Kiesling, S. F. (2005) Homosocial desire in men’s talk: Balancing and re-creating cultural discourses of masculinity. Language in Society 34: 695–726.
Kiesling, S. F. (2006) Hegemonic identity-making in narrative. In A. De Fina, D. Schiffrin and M. Bamberg (eds) Discourse and Identity 261–288. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
King, B. (2009) Building and analysing corpora of computer-mediated communication. In P. Baker (ed.) Contemporary Corpus Linguistics 301–320. London: Continuum.
King, B. (2011) Language, sexuality and place: The view from cyberspace. Gender and Language 5(1): 1–30.
Leap , W. (1993) Learning gay culture in ‘a desert of nothing’: Language as a resource in gender socialization . High School Journal 77(1&2): 122–132.
Leap, W. (1996) Word’s Out: Gay Men’s English. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Linell, P. (2009) Rethinking Language, Mind and World Dialogically. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.
Livia, A. (2002) Camionneuses s’abstenir: Lesbian community creation through the personals. In K. Campbell-Kibler, R. Podesva, S. Roberts, and A. Wong (eds) Language and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice 191–206. Stanford: CSLI.
Louw, B. (1993) Irony in the text or insincerity in the writer? The diagnostic potential of semantic prosodies. In M. Baker, G. Francis and E. Tognini-Bonelli (eds) Text and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair 157–176. Philadelphia and Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Lucas, I. (1997) The color of his eyes: Polari and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In A. Livia and K. Hall (eds) Queerly Phrased 85–94. New York: Oxford University Press.
Miglbauer, M. (2009) ‘In Serbia at least I never heard that someone as a man decided to go on maternity leave but I can tell you that I will have no problem with that’: Gendered professional identities, gendered discourses and their effects on employees in postsocialist globalised workplaces. In Gender and Language Association Conference IGALA 5 25–34.
Milićević, A. (2006) Joining the war: Masculinity, nationalism and war participation in the Balkans war of secession, 1991–1995. Nationalities Papers 34: 265–287.
McEnery, T. (2006) Swearing in English: Bad Language, Purity and Power from 1586 to the Present. London: Routledge.
McEnery, T. and Hardie, A. (2012) Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mills, S. (2008) Language and Sexism. Cambridge University Press.
Partington, A. (2003) The Linguistics of Political Argumentation: The Spin-doctor and the Wolf-pack at the White House. London: Routledge.
Pascoe, C. J. (2007) Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Pascoe, C. J. (2010) Dude, you’re a fag: Adolescent masculinity and the fag discourse. In I. Beattie, R. Arum and K. Ford (eds) The Structure of Schooling: Readings in the Sociology of Education 391–400.
Rizzolo, O. (2006) The syllable is not a valid constituent: Evidence from two Serbo-Croatian language games. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 15: 264–282.
Romaine, S. (2001) A corpus-based view of gender in British and American English. In M. Hellinger, and H. Bussmann (eds) Gender across Languages: The De/construction of Gender Roles through Language Variation and Change 153–176. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Shalom, C. (1997) That great supermarket of desire: Attributes of the desired other in personal advertisements. In K. Harvey and C. Shalom (eds) Language and Desire 186–203. London: Routledge.
Sinclair, J. (1991) Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shaw, D. (1997) Gay men and computer communication: A discourse of sex and identity in cyberspace. In S. G. Jones (ed.) Virtual Culture: Identity and Communication in Cybersociety 133–145. London: Sage.
Slevin, J. (2000) The Internet and Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Spender, D. (1980) Man Made Language. London: Routledge.
Stubbs, M. (1995) Collocations and semantic profiles: On the cause of trouble with quantitative studies. Functions of Language 2(1): 23–55.
Stubbs, M. (2001) Words and Phrases. Oxford: Blackwell.
Thorne, A. and Coupland, J. (1998) Articulations of same-sex desire: Lesbian and gay male dating advertisements. Journal of Sociolinguistics 2(2): 233–257.
Thurlow, C. (2001) Naming the ‘outsider within’: Homophobic pejoratives and the verbal abuse of lesbian, gay and bisexual high-school pupils. Journal of Adolescence 24(1): 25–38.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy